November 12, 2013 -
This is not going to be my best blog ever, just letting you know. That’s because I have just come out of one meeting and in between organizing the last details of the Carnival Sunshine naming ceremony I have just had a two-hour meeting with someone who can only be described as ……………ummmm……………boring. The person who was leading the meeting is excellent at his or her job but bloody hell……he or she really is boring. Even if they had just been abducted by a naked space alien with three eyes and a 22 foot long thing who had said “take me to your leader” in a French accent..…he or she would still tell that storing in such a boring way. The meeting this morning was indeed so boring that I wished I was a horse so I could fall asleep standing up. I wish I could have found an excuse not to attend this meeting but when certain beards find out I am in Miami they like to schedule a meeting with. In the old days I would have found an excuse, I used to be really good at that but as I got older I got more responsible ………bugger. I have been thinking about my early life at Carnival recently and you will see why later in the blog and I remember one excuse I used.
One of the girls I dated (I like that — one of the girls – as though I was some sort of Tiger Woods) loved to talk. Her name was Sarah, a massage therapist who I met on the Carnival Sensation. She could talk for hours and one day we were watching a movie in the cabin. It was the beginning of our relationship and I really liked her. But she wouldn’t stop talking. Anyway, the movie was really good and I was aware that she was talking and talking and finally she must have gotten to the point and expected me to answer. But I hadn’t heard a thing which made her mad. Now, I was hoping that a spot of rumpy pumpy might be on the cards later so rather than telling the truth and saying, “I hadn’t heard a word you said love, shut up and let me watch Steven Segal shoot people in the face.” I told her I was deaf in one ear, in an attempt to explain why I hadn’t been listening to her. It worked. She believed me and felt sorry for me.
We were together for six months during which time I kept forgetting which ear it was I was supposed to be deaf in and sometimes I forgot completely. I lived in constant danger of exposure. I got away with it, mind you. And if you’re reading this now, Sarah…..sorry love. Oh by the way ……the relationship ended not because she discovered I wasn’t deaf…..nope……..she realized that she preferred Italian cannoli to British sausage.
My best excuse ever though was when I was a social host. I was supposed to be on gangway duty but had totally slept in. I was meant to be there by 8 am, but I had woken up at 9:15 am. By the time I had gotten showered and dressed I would have been nearly two hours late. Well sod that I thought – I might as well pack my Samsonite now because the CD at the time was not a chap with a forgiving nature. The only sane course of action was to pretend I was sick. So I called the cruise director’s cabin. Now some may have pretended to be sick and called using an “ill” voice. But I knew Mr. Capone my cruise director was a wise chap who wouldn’t fall for that so I called and said “Sorry Mr. Capone. I didn’t get to the gangway this morning. I shat myself in the elevator.”
I went on to explain just how embarrassing it was and how I thought it might’ve been something I ate last night. I told him how I had to waddle back to my cabin, making the description as vivid as I possibly could. I offered to come up to the CD cabin to apologize in person but for some reason my boss told me not to and to take the rest of the day off. I did…..and I slept the day away in my bed and my unsoiled underpants…….you may know that Eddie Capone (the godfather of comedy) and a great friend is still entertaining guests on our ships and is still a brilliantly funny entertainer. However, I have never told him the truth until now….. sorry Eddie
Time for today’s Q and A – let’s crack on.
Susan Morrow asks:
I just returned home a few days ago from sailing with you on the Carnival Legend. I must THANK YOU again for reading my letter about ‘THE RUDE MAN’ in tender line in the port of Edinburgh, Scotland. I was so surprised to receive your ‘WITH COMPLIMENTS’ bottle.
Susan Morrow – The Canadian with Pink Hair.
Hello Susan Morrow,
There is absolutely no need to thank me because I was outraged at what that guest said to you and he needed to know that there was an another side to the story. Most importantly I hope you had a wonderful cruise with us and I wish you health and happiness in future days. Best wishes.
Dorene Sikorski asks:
Hello John, I am a huge fan of you. I recently did the Baltic cruise on the Legend and had an amazing time. Loved watching you and Calvyn on the Morning show. I am booked on the Carnival Splendor December 27 and again next year November 9 with my family including my new grandson who will be 17 months at the time on the cruise. We are very excited. I want you to know that I enjoy Carnival cruises and I am hoping you go back to Europe in 2015. I think my grandson will be Platinum before he is 10 years old. Thank you again.
Hello Dorene Sikorski,
That’s two great comments in a row for the Carnival Legend and many thanks to you for taking the time to write. I am so glad that you enjoyed this voyage and I have my fingers crossed that we will return soon. Until then I see you have two more cruises booked which is great news and if there is anything at all I can do for you please do let me know. Best wishes.
D Clark asks:
Heald – you talked about the Vista and how “brilliant” it will be. My suggestion is do not over play this because look what happened with your “brilliant” loyalty program and how you became a laughing stock on Cruise Critic. Suggestion: think seriously about an ice rink. Royal has one and thousands of their passengers book the ship just for that. Regardless stop talking things up when you have no clue most probably what is being done there and until those people you call “beards” stick their hand up your ass and tell their “puppet” what to say.
Hello D Clark,
How truly wonderful to hear from you. Well, apart from me truly not caring what is thought of me on other web sites I will tell you two things. Firstly, we won’t be adding an ice rink and while I’m sure it is very popular indeed on other cruise lines it’s been done and is not for us. Secondly, I do know some of the things we will be adding on the Carnival Vista and they are yep…. brilliant. And knowing what these new things are I have absolutely no fear or trepidation of saying that. I hope you come and sail with us and see for yourself. Best wishes.
Alfonso Malian asks:
John, can you help with a unique problem. I will be taking a special lady on a cruise this December on the 22 cruise of Carnival Magic in Galveston booking number ******. The unique problem is that I was divorced from my wife Clara for 14 years but last year we started to talk again and have been in a relationship now for six months and its going very good. I was divorced by her because of my drinking problems but I have been dry now for four years. So I am going to propose marriage to her and will do this at the meal time. Can then I have a private table for two people so that we can talk and because I will be nervous she will say no I don’t want other passengers to see me this way. Thank you John for doing the needful with this for me and I hope my wife again.
Hello Alfonso Malian,
Please don’t worry as I am sure she will say yes and that this time you will do all it takes to make this marriage work. I will take care of the table for you and have spoken to the maître d about this and asked him to assist. So all you need to do is take a deep breath and give her the ring and I hope you have happy and healthy years together. Let me know how it goes if you can please and have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.
John when will the rest of 2015 cruises be out. I want to book one for our 20th anniversary and they only go to April 2015. I would like to see Junes schedule.
Please stay tuned as early next year we hope to have all those details for you. Thanks so much and please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
Craig Iverson asks:
I like the guitar players on the Carnival Sunshine in our Med cruise but they are very much the same and play very much the same music. Adam was the best of them but we would have liked to have seen more variety. Had a blast though, John
Hello Craig Iverson,
Yep. I agree and so do the beards and in fact I can tell you that we are changing this and adding more duos and party bands across the fleet during the next few months. We have already started with the Carnival Sunshine that now has a duo and one soloist which makes for more variety. The guitar soloists are great musicians and entertainers but having them and a duo/four-piece band really does give us far more live music options. I am so glad you had a great time and hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.
Joleen Koprucki asks:
I just wanted to say bravo to my Carnival PVP Carmen Wilson. I had posted here about a week ago about cruising on the Carnival Glory in February, but due to unforeseen circumstances with the person I was supposed to cruise with I felt it was in my best interests if I cancelled. Carmen was terrific! She called the other person, got me deleted from that booking & got my deposit back ASAP. And a few days later she helped me get set up on another cruise (which is actually the cruise I’d originally been planning to take). Anyway, I just wanted to say how grateful I am to Carnival and their wonderful staff. And of course, John, that includes you and your wonderful humour. Carnival Liberty Here I Come April 5, 2014…YIPPEEEE. Thanks for all you do for us John and your brilliant sense of humour.
Hello Joleen Koprucki,
Thanks so very much for taking the time to write about Carmen and I am sure she will be thrilled when she sees this. It really is a wonderful advert for our PVPs and I appreciate you sharing this with us. I am glad all is set and if you need anything at all before you sail please let me know won’t you. Until then I wish you a fantastic cruises. Best wishes.
Iain O’Keefe asks:
When will you start spending more time answering questions on this blog and not on Facebook John? You spend too much time on Facebook and I don’t do Facebook because I have a life and am not 16 years old. I sent in this question ages ago and no response was sent to me. My family of 4 will be on the cruise of the Conquest 11/24. My children are aged four and eight and we need early sitting confirmed but for some unknown reason we are wait listed- this is our third cruise and we always get early sitting. Sail Date 11/24/13, Booking number ******. Can you do something about this and help us?
Hello Iain O’Keefe,
I realise that since Facebook I have not written as many blogs as before but also this has been because of my busy schedule, as well. Therefore I do apologise and am glad that you have written here and I have seen it in time for your cruise. I will ask the maitre d to assist you and I know he will do all he can for you and the family. My apologies again for the delay and I wish you all a great time. Best wishes.
Mindy Worthington asks:
How much does a cruise director earn? I am trying to decide if this is a career path I want to follow but there is no information anywhere about salary and benefits.
Hello Mindy Worthington,
Obviously I am sure you understand I cannot discuss my salary here but I will say that any crew member who works on a ship in the cruise industry has the chance to save money as board and lodging is included. But the work is hard and takes you away from family for months on end. That aside it’s a wonderful career path and one I have been so lucky to enjoy and I wish you that same luck too. Best wishes.
Deb Shinder asks:
Hello, John. My husband and I are planning to book the July 1 sailing to Alaska. I notice in the CD schedule that for July 2014 on the Miracle, it shows “John Heald off” and “Troy Linton on.” Will you be on that first Alaska sailing of July? It would be fantastic good luck to get to meet you; I enjoy your sense of humor and I know my husband (who is finally about to go on his first cruise with me on the Triumph on October 26) would enjoy it even more. Either way, thanks
for the entertaining and informative blog.
Hello Deb Shinder,
You are too kind and I will indeed be on the ship for the entire Alaskan season so I look forward to seeing you there ready to explore together and have loads of fun doing so. Thanks again for the kind words and please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.
My family will be taking our first cruise on the Carnival Breeze December 1. To say the least we are very excited and can’t wait to experience our first cruise. My question is about dinner times. My wife and I have 3 children (perfect little angels). They are 12 (almost 13 boy), and 11 and 7 year old girls. What do you feel is the best time for dinner? I have switched a couple of times from Early to late and back to early. I guess we don’t want to miss anything at night that the might enjoy. What other advice do you have for first timers as we start our cruising adventures? Thank you for your time and I sure hope you have enjoyed spending time with your family this weekend.
This is an easy question to answer. Please choose what we call Your Time Dining. This allows you to go to dinner any time from 5:30pm – 9:30pm and from your demographics I think this would be perfect for you. Have a chat with everyone and if you need my help with this or anything else please let me know. Best wishes to you all.
And that’s all for today. Just before I continue I wanted to say I had a great time on the Carnival Legend this past European season and that I miss her very much. She now has a new CD in Brent Mitchell who as usual is doing a great job. However I have to use this medium to write a public apology to him because the day I left the ship in New York and before he moved into the CD cabin I dropped a large Richard the Third (cockney rhyming slang) in the toilet…….and didn’t flush.
Instead I left a Post-It note on the inside of the toilet seat that simply read…… “Handover of the Cruise Director’s Log.” This apparently angered Brent for which I apologise sincerely and should add that I did this before I started my non-carb diet which trust me Brent, would have been much, much worse.
I thought you might like to see the top five ships for October/November as rated by those guests who are sent and complete an online review card.
|1. Carnival Triumph|
|2. Carnival Magic|
|3. Carnival Fantasy|
|4. Carnival Liberty|
|5. Carnival Breeze|
Congratulations to the Carnival Triumph, what a journey she has been on these past months and how brilliant it is to see her in the number one position.
So the other day I sat down with a beard called Jim who basically gave me permission to start writing my book, yep finally I can get writing and Carnival will help me with a publisher, etc. Brilliant I thought and went back to the Intercontinentalhyattmarriott full of joy and excitement.
I stripped down to my underpants, sat down, at 5:30pm, with a Diet Coke and bag of Cuban style pork cracklings, and started typing on my laptop. My presumption was that when I finally stood up again— perhaps some time after 7:30pm — I would have my first book about life behind the crew only door completed and ready to give the publisher.
Looking up some time later, I was shocked to see that it was 9:45pm and I had only completed 3 pages. FFS. How could this be? I hadn’t even taken any breaks to watch some Latvian rumpy pumpy or even order some dinner.
So thinking that that, in order to write more quickly and more ummmm…..better………I decided I would have to drop something out of me and then put something in so I went for a number one and a number two and then ordered a Caesar salad with chicken. That, I thought, should give me enough energy to finish chapter one and most of chapter 2. When I looked at the time again it was just 11:30pm and I had written only three more paragraphs plus doodled a picture of a huge gentleman’s sausage.
Since starting the book I have come to realise that it’s not as easy as it looks and that its probably best I know how the book will end and indeed, who’s in it etc. before me and my underpants sit down to write. There is thinking about it so much to choose from with this book, stories that you can’t make up, they can only happen in real life…….real life on board a cruise ship.
I shall be talking about my learning curve as a CD like the time on the Carnival Fantasy in 1991. I had only been in the job a very short time and I must admit I was a bit full of myself. I was the youngest CD Carnival had ever had and I was the first CD not to be a proven entertainer, something which pissed of some of my colleagues I can tell you.
Anyway, I was in the middle of my travel talk for Nassau, which I did before the ship sailed from Miami and was in full flow about the tours and what to see and where to go doing my usual information dissected with various off the cuff remarks and as the talk went on I realised that there were very few laughs coming from the audience. This puzzled me a little but I carried on regardless. I mentioned the casino that Carnival used to own in Nassau called Crystal Palace. We used to send guests there during our overnight stay to see a spectacular show that featured “topless dancers” in a showgirl scenario and some panthers and lions that were so old that they were as ferocious as a hamster wearing pink fluffy slippers.
Anyway, I made my usual reference to the show saying don’t worry about the topless dancers because “If you have seen one you have seen them both” …….usually this joke got a good laugh but this time the laughter was sparse to say the least…….and as I looked up and then suddenly loads of guests stood up and left..…yep……….they walked out together shaking their heads.
I finished my talk in record time and went back to the cabin dumb struck by what I had seen. I called the chief purser (this was before we had hotel directors) and told him what had happened and he said “Didn’t you read your memo; we have 400 Jehovah Witnesses on board?”
Oh FFS. Well I felt an idiot for upsetting these nice people and indeed I had not read the memo which in the days before e-mail came in written form in a big brown envelope which was sitting on my desk………..unopened
I spent the rest of the four day cruise apologising and making sure I said nothing that would upset them further…………but they never forgave me………I don’t think they enjoyed the Male Nightgown Contest too much either and every time there was a knock on my cabin door……..I hid under the bed. Anyway, write I will and obviously with all the expense involved in printing a book I hope some of you buy it. The book itself is all about my journey with Carnival the people I have met and some of the things that have happened along the way. I hope it will, unlike some other books give you a true description of life below decks, the good, the sad and the funny. It should, based on my current writing timeline be ready for Christmas 2019. Kidding, I hope to have it finished and printed as soon as I can and I really hope you will buy it………..and enjoy it.